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Fictional characters

Philosophy Compass 2 (2):141–156 (2007)

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  1. Fictional names and individual concepts.Andreas Stokke - 2021 - Synthese 198 (8):7829-7859.
    This paper defends a version of the realist view that fictional characters exist. It argues for an instance of abstract realist views, according to which fictional characters are roles, constituted by sets of properties. It is argued that fictional names denote individual concepts, functions from worlds to individuals. It is shown that a dynamic framework for understanding the evolution of discourse information can be used to understand how roles are created and develop along with story content. Taking fictional names to (...)
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  • Living with the Abstract: Realism and Models.Stathis Psillos - 2011 - Synthese 180 (1):3-17.
    A natural way to think of models is as abstract entities. If theories employ models to represent the world, theories traffic in abstract entities much more widely than is often assumed. This kind of thought seems to create a problem for a scientific realist approach to theories. Scientific realists claim theories should be understood literally. Do they then imply the reality of abstract entities? Or are theories simply—and incurably—false? Or has the very idea of literal understanding to be abandoned? Is (...)
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  • Vague Fictional Objects.Elisa Paganini - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (2):158-184.
    ABSTRACTI propose a different account of fictional objects from the ones already present in the literature. According to my account, fictional objects are culturally created abstract objects dependent for their existence on the pretence attitude adopted by a group of people towards a single fictional content. My work is divided into three parts: in the first one, I present how fictional objects come into existence according to my proposal; in the second part, I illustrate how the existence of fictional objects (...)
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  • The Problem of Empty Names and Russellian Plenitude.Joshua Spencer - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (3):1-18.
    ‘Ahab is a whaler’ and ‘Holmes is a whaler’ express different propositions, even though neither ‘Ahab’ nor ‘Holmes’ has a referent. This seems to constitute a theoretical puzzle for the Russellian view of propositions. In this paper, I develop a variant of the Russellian view, Plenitudinous Russellianism. I claim that ‘Ahab is a whaler’ and ‘Holmes is a whaler’ express distinct gappy propositions. I discuss key metaphysical and semantic differences between Plenitudinous Russellianism and Traditional Russellianism and respond to objections that (...)
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  • Models and Representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2017 - In Lorenzo Magnani & Tommaso Bertolotti (eds.), Springer Handbook of Model-Based Science. pp. 49-102.
    Scientific discourse is rife with passages that appear to be ordinary descriptions of systems of interest in a particular discipline. Equally, the pages of textbooks and journals are filled with discussions of the properties and the behavior of those systems. Students of mechanics investigate at length the dynamical properties of a system consisting of two or three spinning spheres with homogenous mass distributions gravitationally interacting only with each other. Population biologists study the evolution of one species procreating at a constant (...)
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  • Foundational Grounding and the Argument From Contingency.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2017 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 8.
    The argument from contingency for the existence of God is best understood as a request for an explanation of the total sequence of causes and effects in the universe (‘History’ for short). Many puzzles about how there could be such an explanation arise from the assumption that God is being introduced as one more cause prepended to the sequence of causes that (allegedly) needed explaining. In response to this difficulty, this chapter defends three theses. First, it argues that, if the (...)
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  • Models and Fiction.Roman Frigg - 2010 - Synthese 172 (2):251-268.
    Most scientific models are not physical objects, and this raises important questions. What sort of entity are models, what is truth in a model, and how do we learn about models? In this paper I argue that models share important aspects in common with literary fiction, and that therefore theories of fiction can be brought to bear on these questions. In particular, I argue that the pretence theory as developed by Walton has the resources to answer these questions. I introduce (...)
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  • Free Indirect Discourse in Non-Fiction.Andreas Stokke - 2021 - Frontiers in Communication 5 (606616).
    This paper considers some uses of Free Indirect Discourse within non-fictional discourse. It is shown that these differ from ordinary uses in that they do not attribute actual thoughts or utterances. I argue that the explanation for this is that these uses of Free Indirect Discourse are not assertoric. Instead, it is argued here that they are fictional uses, that is, they are used with fictional force like utterances used to tell a fictional story. Rather than making assertions about the (...)
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  • The Great Beetle Debate: A Study in Imagining with Names.Stacie Friend - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 153 (2):183-211.
    Statements about fictional characters, such as “Gregor Samsa has been changed into a beetle,” pose the problem of how we can say something true (or false) using empty names. I propose an original solution to this problem that construes such utterances as reports of the “prescriptions to imagine” generated by works of fiction. In particular, I argue that we should construe these utterances as specifying, not what we are supposed to imagine—the propositional object of the imagining—but how we are supposed (...)
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  • Truth in Fiction.Franck Lihoreau (ed.) - 2011 - Ontos Verlag.
    The essays collected in this volume are all concerned with the connection between fiction and truth. This question is of utmost importance to metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophical logic and epistemology, raising in each of these areas and at their intersections a large number of issues related to creation, existence, reference, identity, modality, belief, assertion, imagination, pretense, etc. All these topics and many more are addressed in this collection, which brings together original essays written from various points of view by (...)
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  • Fictional Characters and Their Discontents: Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics of Fictional Entities.Shamik Chakravarty - 2021 - Dissertation, Lingnan University
    In recent metaphysics, the questions of whether fictional entities exist, what their nature is, and how to explain truths of statements such as “Sherlock Holmes lives at 221B Baker Street” and “Holmes was created by Arthur Conan Doyle” have been subject to much debate. The main aim of my thesis is to wrestle with key proponents of the abstractionist view that fictional entities are abstract objects that exist (van Inwagen 1977, 2018, Thomasson 1999 and Salmon 1998) as well as Walton’s (...)
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  • Singular Reference in Fictional Discourse?Manuel García-Carpintero - 2019 - Disputatio 11 (54):143-177.
    Singular terms used in fictions for fictional characters raise well-known philosophical issues, explored in depth in the literature. But philosophers typically assume that names already in use to refer to “moderatesized specimens of dry goods” cause no special problem when occurring in fictions, behaving there as they ordinarily do in straightforward assertions. In this paper I continue a debate with Stacie Friend, arguing against this for the exceptionalist view that names of real entities in fictional discourse don’t work there as (...)
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  • Fictional Singular Imaginings.Manuel Garcia-Carpintero - 2010 - In Robin Jeshion (ed.), New Essays on Singular Thought. Oxford University Press. pp. 273--299.
    In a series of papers, Robin Jeshion has forcefully criticized both Donnellan's and Evans’ claims on the contingent a priori, and she has developed an “acquaintanceless” account of singular thoughts as an alternative view. Jeshion claims that one can fully grasp a singular thought expressed by a sentence including a proper name, even if its reference has been descriptively fixed and one’s access to the referent is “mediated” by that description. But she still wants to reject “semantic instrumentalism”, the view (...)
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  • Nonexistent Objects.Maria Reicher - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Are there nonexistent objects, i.e., objects that do not exist? Some examples often cited are: Zeus, Pegasus, Sherlock Holmes, Vulcan (the hypothetical planet postulated by the 19th century astronomer Le Verrier), the perpetual motion machine, the golden mountain, the fountain of youth, the round square, etc. Some important philosophers have thought that the very concept of a nonexistent object is contradictory (Hume) or logically ill-formed (Kant, Frege), while others (Leibniz, Meinong, the Russell of Principles of Mathematics) have embraced it wholeheartedly. (...)
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  • Imagination in Scientific Modeling.Adam Toon - 2016 - In Amy Kind (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Imagination. Routledge. pp. 451-462.
    Modeling is central to scientific inquiry. It also depends heavily upon the imagination. In modeling, scientists seem to turn their attention away from the complexity of the real world to imagine a realm of perfect spheres, frictionless planes and perfect rational agents. Modeling poses many questions. What are models? How do they relate to the real world? Recently, a number of philosophers have addressed these questions by focusing on the role of the imagination in modeling. Some have also drawn parallels (...)
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  • Scientific Representation.Roman Frigg & James Nguyen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Science provides us with representations of atoms, elementary particles, polymers, populations, genetic trees, economies, rational decisions, aeroplanes, earthquakes, forest fires, irrigation systems, and the world’s climate. It's through these representations that we learn about the world. This entry explores various different accounts of scientific representation, with a particular focus on how scientific models represent their target systems. As philosophers of science are increasingly acknowledging the importance, if not the primacy, of scientific models as representational units of science, it's important to (...)
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  • Narrative and the Literary Imagination.John Gibson - 2014 - In Allen Speight (ed.), Narrative, Philosophy & Life. Springer. pp. 135-50.
    This paper attempts to reconcile two apparently opposed ways of thinking about the imagination and its relationship to literature, one which casts it as essentially concerned with fiction-making and the other with culture-making. The literary imagination’s power to create fictions is what gives it its most obvious claim to “autonomy”, as Kant would have it: its freedom to venture out in often wild and spectacular excess of reality. The argument of this paper is that we can locate the literary imagination’s (...)
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  • Fictionalism in Metaphysics.Frederick Kroon - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (11):786-803.
    This is a survey of contemporary work on ‘fictionalism in metaphysics’, a term that is taken to signify both the place of fictionalism as a distinctive anti‐realist metaphysics in which usefulness rather than truth is the norm of acceptance, and the fact that philosophers have given fictionalist treatments of a range of specifically metaphysical notions.
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  • Los modelos y la ficción.Roman Frigg - 2016 - Metatheoria – Revista de Filosofía E Historia de la Ciencia 7:1--16.
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  • Fiction.Fred Kroon - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Models, Sherlock Holmes and the Emperor Claudius.Adam Toon - manuscript
    Recently, a number of authors have suggested that we understand scientific models in the same way as fictional characters, like Sherlock Holmes. The biggest challenge for this approach concerns the ontology of fictional characters. I consider two responses to this challenge, given by Roman Frigg, Ronald Giere and Peter Godfrey-Smith, and argue that neither is successful. I then suggest an alternative approach. While parallels with fiction are useful, I argue that models of real systems are more aptly compared to works (...)
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  • Singular Terms in Fiction. Fictional and “Real” Names.Jordi Valor Abad - 2019 - Disputatio 11 (54):111-142.
    In this introduction, I consider different problems posed by the use of singular terms in fiction, paying especial attention to proper names and, in particular, to names of real people, places, etc. As we will see, descriptivist and Millian theories of reference face different kinds of problems in explaining the use of fictional names in fiction-related contexts. Moreover, the task of advancing a uniform account of names in these contexts—an account which deals not only with fictional names but also with (...)
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  • Singular Terms, Identity, and the Creation of Fictional Characters.Matthieu Fontaine - 2019 - Disputatio 11 (54):207-229.
    How to interpret singular terms in fiction? In this paper, we address this semantic question from the perspective of the Artifactual Theory of Fiction. According to the ATF, fictional characters exist as abstract artifacts created by their author, and preserved through the existence of copies of an original work and a competent readership. We pretend that a well-suited semantics for the ATF can be defined with respect to a modal framework by means of Hintikka’s world lines semantics. The question of (...)
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  • Semantics of Fictional Terms.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 38 (2):73-100.
    The paper provides an opinionated survey of recent contributions – roughly, in the last decade – to our understanding of how names and other referring expressions work in fictional discourse and addresses well-known philosophical worries that they raise. Views about the semantics of referring expressions in fictional discourse are usually accompanied by metaphysical views on the ontology of fictional characters, so this will also come under our focus.
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  • Lying and Fiction.Emar Maier - 2018 - In Jörg Meibauer (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Lying. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 303-314.
    Lying and fiction both involve the deliberate production of statements that fail to obey Grice’s first Maxim of Quality (“do not say what you believe to be false”). The question thus arises if we can provide a uniform analysis for fiction and lies. In this chapter I discuss the similarities, but also some fundamental differences between lying and fiction. I argue that there’s little hope for a satisfying account within a traditional truth conditional semantic framework. Rather than immediately moving to (...)
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  • Fiction and Scientific Representation.Roman Frigg - 2010 - In .
    Understanding scientific modelling can be divided into two sub-projects: analysing what model-systems are, and understanding how they are used to represent something beyond themselves. The first is a prerequisite for the second: we can only start analysing how representation works once we understand the intrinsic character of the vehicle that does the representing. Coming to terms with this issue is the project of the first half of this chapter. My central contention is that models are akin to places and characters (...)
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  • Fictional Entities.Fiora Salis - 2013 - Online Companion to Problems in Analytic Philosophy.
    In this entry I present one of the most hotly debated issues in contemporary analytic philosophy regarding the nature of fictional entities and the motivations that might be adduced for and against positing them into our ontology. The entry is divided in two parts. In the first part I offer an overview of the main accounts of the metaphysics of fictional entities according to three standard realist views, fictional Meinongianism, fictional possibilism and fictional creationism. In the second part I describe (...)
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  • Fictionalism and the Folk.Adam Toon - 2016 - The Monist 99 (3):280-295.
    Mental fictionalism is the view that, even if mental states do not exist, it is useful to talk as if they do. Mental states are useful fictions. Recent philosophy of mind has seen a growing interest in mental fictionalism. To date, much of the discussion has concerned the general features of the approach. In this paper, I develop a specific form of mental fictionalism by drawing on Kendall Walton’s work on make-believe. According to the approach I propose, talk of mental (...)
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  • Of Barrels and Pipes: Representation - as in Art and Science.Frigg Roman & Nguyen James - 2017 - In Otávio Bueno, George Darby, Steven French & Dean Rickles (eds.), Thinking about Science and Reflecting on Art: Bringing Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Science Together. London and New York: pp. 41-61.
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  • Playing with Molecules.Adam Toon - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):580-589.
    Recent philosophy of science has seen a number of attempts to understand scientific models by looking to theories of fiction. In previous work, I have offered an account of models that draws on Kendall Walton’s ‘make-believe’ theory of art. According to this account, models function as ‘props’ in games of make-believe, like children’s dolls or toy trucks. In this paper, I assess the make-believe view through an empirical study of molecular models. I suggest that the view gains support when we (...)
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  • To Have and to Hold.Tatjana von Solodkoff & Richard Woodward - 2017 - Philosophical Issues 27 (1):407-427.
    Realists about fictional entities often distinguish the properties that a fictional character has and the properties a character holds. Roughly, this is the distinction between the properties that a character really possesses and the properties it fictionally possess. But despite the popularity of this distinction in realist circles, it gives rise to a number of subtle issues about which fictional realists can and do disagree. In this paper, we aim to clarify these issues and defend three related theses. One: that (...)
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  • Securing Singular Thought About Merely Hypothetical Entities.Greg Ackerman - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (8):2193-2213.
    Although we are still in the dark when it comes to giving necessary and jointly sufficient criteria for what it takes to be thinking a singular thought, the paradigm cases are just ones where an agent is thinking about some particular object. When we erroneously think that Vulcan is a planet, our thought appears to be singular since it is, after all, about Vulcan. A promising way to explain this is to claim that there is something, a merely hypothetical entity, (...)
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  • Fictional Names and the Problem of Intersubjective Identification.Fiora Salis - 2013 - Dialectica 67 (3):283-301.
    The problem of intersubjective identification arises from the difficulties of explaining how our thoughts and discourse about fictional characters can be directed towards the same (or different) characters given the assumption that there are no fictional entities. In this paper I aim to offer a solution in terms of participation in a practice of thinking and talking about the same thing, which is inspired by Sainsbury's name-using practices. I will critically discuss a similar idea that was put forward by Friend (...)
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  • Category Mistakes and Figurative Language.Ofra Magidor - 2015 - Philosophical Studies (1):1-14.
    Category mistakes are sentences such as ”The number two is blue’ or ”Green ideas sleep furiously’. Such sentences are highly infelicitous and thus a prominent view claims that they are meaningless. Category mistakes are also highly prevalent in figurative language. That is to say, it is very common for sentences which are used figuratively to be such that, if taken literally, they would constitute category mistakes. In this paper I argue that the view that category mistakes are meaningless is inconsistent (...)
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  • Fictionalism.E. C. Bourne - 2013 - Analysis 73 (1):147-162.
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  • Truth in Fiction.Richard Woodward - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (3):158-167.
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